Police provide tips to reduce crimes of opportunity

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published May 21, 2019

GROSSE POINTE FARMS — With Memorial Day weekend marking the unofficial start to summer, we all know what that means: sun, sandals, swimming — and stealing.

The warm weather doesn’t just bring people outdoors for relaxation and recreation. Crooks are more prevalent too, and police want people to be vigilant so they don’t become victims.

After larcenies from unlocked vehicles and the theft of a vehicle that had its keys left inside it last week, the Grosse Pointe Farms Public Safety Department sent out an online Nixle alert reminding residents to not leave vehicles unlocked or with keys or visible valuables inside. Other Pointes have seen their share of such crimes recently.

“My No. 1 crime (prevention) tip is, lock your doors,” said Detective Lt. Antonino Trupiano. “Lock your car door. Lock your house door. If people could do that, we would get rid of 95% of our larcenies from auto.”

He said these crimes are usually crimes of opportunity, and in many instances, a criminal is looking for easy targets, such as unlocked doors, which allow a thief to get in and out without attracting attention from breaking a window.

Valuables such as GPS devices, laptop computers, tablets, cellphones, purses and briefcases should never be left sitting out in the open inside vehicles. Police say these should be taken inside or at least locked in the trunk, where they’re not visible.

“Don’t leave any valuables in sight (in vehicles),” Trupiano said. “You have to help yourself not be a victim.”

Bike thefts also tend to be somewhat seasonal. Residents are always encouraged to register their bikes with the city, but Trupiano said the most important piece of advice he can offer is for people to not leave unattended bikes unlocked.

“Any lock is a good lock,” he said. “Lock up your bike when you pull up to the library. Lock up your bike when you go to (Grosse Pointe) South (High School) for the day.”

While stronger U-locks are recommended for higher-end bikes, Trupiano said even a simple cable lock serves as a theft deterrent. A crook might pass up a secured, expensive bike in favor of an unlocked mid-grade bike, for example.

Many communities, including Grosse Pointe Farms, Park, City and Shores, have vacation house-watch programs. Besides making sure all doors and windows are locked before leaving on a trip, Trupiano said residents should call their public safety department to see if they offer this service. Homes on vacation watch lists will get special attention from police during the time that the residents are away, and residents will be asked whether they have any lights on timers so that police know when lights should be on and when they shouldn’t. Trupiano said residents should also arrange to have someone they trust check on the house.

Porch lights left on at night are a good safety option at all times.

Since residents know the patterns of their own neighborhoods best, Trupiano urges people to call 911 immediately if they see anything that seems out of place.

“Call right away,” he said. “I’d rather make 900 false runs than one (real crime) run.”